Following a tough act, Episode 2 manages to keep pace with the series’ excellent character development.
The first episode of Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy adaptation was a thrill ride of twists, reveals, and character intros, laying a trail of breadcrumbs to pull us along with the season’s larger mystery: The Eternity Forge. That’s a pace that’s proved to be tough to maintain, because while Episode 2: Under Pressure follows that trail, it does so at a slightly more laid back pace and lacks the kind of punchy plot moments that showed us Episode 1 meant business. Given that it’s roughly the same length at around two hours, it feels less dense. But at the same time, it benefits from not having to bring us up to speed with the universe, building on some of the introspective elements that balanced the first episode out.
The developers have said each episode is meant to focus on one character, and Rocket is the heart of this one. The significant time spent delving into his backstory and how he wound up the wisecracking misanthrope we know today is well worth it. I was laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of a love story between two woodland mammals cybernetically enhanced to be able to talk and shoot laser guns, but at the same time, I was genuinely touched by the presentation of their bond in places.
I’m still debating whether I did the right thing.
Rocket’s friendship with Peter also goes under the microscope in Episode 2, allowing you to make some pretty momentous decisions about how important that camaraderie is. When I had to side with Gamora or Rocket in the first episode it felt like a pretty straightforward case of Good Plan vs Dumb Plan, but this episode presents a similar conundrum that’s not so simple. It forces you to choose between sticking up for a friend who has laid everything bare for you – at a significant cost to the mission – or taking the more sensible road. I’m still debating whether I did the right thing, which is always a sign of a well-written decision point.
The main story, by contrast, spends a lot of this episode in a holding pattern. There are some piecemeal revelations about the season arc here and there, but they’re all fairly vague and meandering in their execution. It seems clear the writers couldn’t keep up the pace of major events from Episode 1 without blowing the whole thing early and are rationing what secrets they have left judiciously across the remaining episodes. That’s not entirely a negative thing, but it does make following the Eternity Forge threads the least interesting part of this episode.
Topping it all off, we have another classic rock-backed comic book action sequence played out via quick-time events that’s just enjoyable to get caught up in the energy of, even if it doesn’t present much in the way of meaningful difficulty. Telltale remains at the peak of its action-choreography game, embracing the bombastic style of brawling the Guardians comics are known for and playing with some cool ideas like reorienting gravity in the middle of a slugfest.